A transgender woman is suing American Airlines, alleging she was wrongfully fired in 2018 from her job as a customer service agent for complaining about discrimination and inappropriate comments by colleagues on the job.
Monte Johnson’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit also names as a defendant Kimberly Bailey, an American Airlines manager. The lawsuit’s allegations include wrongful termination, identity- and gender-based discrimination, harassment, retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Johnson seeks unspecified damages in the suit filed Tuesday.
American Airlines is “reviewing the allegations of the complaint,” a statement said.
“American has an unwavering commitment to its LGBTQ team members and we’re committed to providing a safe and comfortable environment for everyone who works at our airline,” the statement said.
Johnson began working for American Airlines as a customer service agent in December 2012 and is a transgendered individual who identifies as a female, the suit states. Although American Airlines knew of Johnson’s gender identity, she was often called “he” or “him” and called a male by American Airlines management and employees, the suit alleges.
A co-worker constantly asked Johnson if she had her sex change yet and the plaintiff always replied that such questions were inappropriate, the suit states.
Johnson often complained about the alleged harassment throughout her employment, but the company did nothing, the suit states. Instead, American Airlines discriminated against her based on her gender identity and began retaliating against her, the suit alleges.
In July 2016, a passenger authorized Johnson to gather his personal information from the American Airlines computer, but the plaintiff mistakenly obtained data from another passenger and called that person, the suit states. Johnson ended the call right away when she realized what had happened, the suit states.
However, Bailey subsequently targeted Johnson in retaliation because of the plaintiff’s gender identity and both Bailey and another manager micro-managed and reprimanded the plaintiff for any type of work-related situation, the suit alleges.
Johnson was the only employee harassed with constant negative remarks about her work, despite being a seasoned veteran, the suit states.
Another alleged example of retaliation occurred when a passenger wore a political slogan on his attire, which drew a complaint from another passenger who objected and complained to Johnson, the suit states.
Johnson discussed the matter with her co-workers and they decided to allow the passenger to board without saying anything to him about the slogan, the suit states.
However, Johnson was subsequently reprimanded by American Airlines and Bailey did not allow the plaintiff to give her side of the story, the suit states.
The managers became “extremely harassing” of Johnson’s work-related decisions and the more she complained, the worse the backlash, according to the suit.
Johnson feared she would lose her job and complained to her union, but there was no resolution of her complaints, the suit states. Johnson was fired in August 2018, close to the time of her complaints internally and to the union, the suit states.